Life for Tom Hiles and his family was mainly nasty, brutish and short. There were flashes of joy, such as when good rains fell again at their property, Teetulpa Station, where Yunta is today, after the dry year of 1869. Or when Tom kicked a goal for Prince Alfred in its six-goals-to-one defeat of St Peter's in the intercollegiate football match of 1880.
Tom also enjoyed his years with the junior team Hotham, where he played from 1881 to 1887. A highlight occurred on 5 September 1885 when he was chosen in the Norwood 20 to meet South Adelaide at Kensington Oval. Norwood was in a lean period between premierships and tried more colts that season than any other team. South won the match, 8.10 to 2.11. He was noted for a good piece of play at the same venue a week later when Norwood defeated Port Adelaide 4.14 to 2.8
Tom was born at Teetulpa on 7 August 1865 and named after an earlier brother called Tom, who had survived only eight months and six days before his death in April 1863. A sister, Phoebe, had come and gone in 1864. The family patriarch, Benjamin Harris Hiles, was 53 when he died in 1873 after a long, painful illness, and his widow, Elizabeth, succumbed to severe dropsy in 1883.
Tom himself was only 32 when he passed away suddenly in Coolgardie on 16 April 1897. As reported by The Kalgoorlie Western Argus: "Thomas B. Hiles, middle-aged, was sitting down at dinner at Dr Chewings' house in Shaw-street, and proceeded to draw the cork out of a bottle when he burst a blood vessel. Dr Hynes was called in, but Hiles expired before he arrived. The deceased was in an advanced state of consumption, and death was due to hemorrhage of the lungs."
His elder brother John was 44 when he followed seven years later, leaving just the oldest sibling, Hannah, born in 1858.
P Robins Sept 2018
* Tom is pictured after Hotham won the Adelaide and Suburban premiership in 1881